Encephalartos Gratus Cycad


Ancient Garden

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​Encephalartos Gratus Cycad

  • Common name: Encephalartos gratus, Bread Palm, Mulanje Cycad
  • Scientific name: Encephalartos gratus
  • Family name: Zamiaceae
  • Origin: Southeastern Africa in Malawi and Mozambique
  • Height: Grows up to 10 ft tall
  • Width: Trunks 2 ft; spread of 12-16 ft
  • Growth: Slow
  • Zone: 9b-11
  • Light needs: Full sun or partial sun
  • Salt tolerance: Moderate
  • Soil/pH/Texture: Prefers well-drained sandy/gritty soil. Prefers slightly acidic soil (pH 5.0-6.5)
  • Soil moisture: This plant prefers consistently moist soil, and should be watered regularly, especially during dry periods.
  • Drought tolerance: Moderate - can survive dry conditions, but it will negatively impact their growth and health.
  • Pests/Diseases: No pests and diseases are of major concern.
  • Growing conditions: Should be grown in a sunny area with well-drained soil and given plenty of water. Needs to be grown in a warm environment with no risk of frost. It can tolerate drought, but it won’t maintain a full crown in dry conditions. This plant grows very slowly, but it may reach up to ten feet tall after several years, so it should be given room away from other plants to grow.
  • Characteristics: This plant has a single trunk, roughly textured, about 2 ft wide once fully grown. Leaves are palm-like, grow out from the top of the trunk, and may be 6-8 ft long. Leaflets are in 30-70 pairs per leaf and are smooth, dark green, and glossy. Encephalartos gratus is dioecious, having separate male and female plants, which produce different cones at the base of the leaves on the crown. Female cones are orange brown. Male cones are smaller in diameter and are green, orange, and brown.
  • Propagation: By seeds.
  • Wildlife: Small animals such as birds and lizards may rest on its leaves.
  • Facts: Its species name, gratus, is Latin for “pleasing” or “welcome”. This plant’s conservation status is “vulnerable” due to diseases in its native habitat as well as removal of it from the wild. In their native environment, these plants are frequently defoliated by seasonal fires, but survive regardless.
  • Designer considerations: Due to this plant’s need for plenty of room to grow, as well as its large, showy leaves and brightly colored cones, it makes a good centerpiece or point of focus for one’s garden and should be placed separately from other plants.